The Rotherhithe Tunnel could be closed for a year to carry out essential repairs, according to Transport for London (TfL).
As we reported in July, the repairs to the 113-year-old tunnel would cost about £120 million and the tunnel is the river crossing most in need of repair.
A Freedom of Information request by the News has revealed that this would be the likely cost if the tunnel was shut off completely for a year.
But repairs would be “likely to be substantially more expensive” and take much longer if the tunnel was only closed for weekends and at night, the transport agency added.
TfL has already put together a concept design for the scheme, which would include redoing or adding tunnel ventilation systems, fire safety systems, lighting, signing, power, communications, the carriageway, pumps, drainage and finishes.
A spokesperson for the agency added: “A detailed programme and cost estimate for the works will be produced during the detailed design stage.
“However, due to TfL’s current financial position, we are unable at this time to progress the procurement for the detailed design and build stages of the project.”
It comes after a senior TfL manager said last July that the tunnel was “in urgent need of an upgrade”. “The Rotherhithe Tunnel was built many years ago for a different type of purpose,” Gareth Powell, managing director for surface transport, told the London Assembly.
“That is one of the reasons why there are restrictions around the type of vehicle that can enter and go through that tunnel at the moment. That’s in order that we can continue to operate the tunnel safely.”
These restrictions led to drivers paying out about £5 million in fines in the first eight months of last year alone.